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Pass Real Telecom Reform and Promote Innovation!
An Open Letter to the Rhode Island Senate:
May 23, 2012
By Brent Mead
In light of your ongoing deliberations, I want to reiterate the strong support of the National Taxpayers Union’s 1,100 members in Rhode Island for Senate Bill 2393, which would modernize the state’s telecommunications laws by preempting regulation of wireless services by the Public Utility Commission. Due to the interstate nature of wireless communications, state-by-state patchwork regulations can be detrimental to economically productive innovation and harmful to consumers.
Preemption laws similar to those found in SB 2393 currently exist in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Rhode Island can, by harmonizing its rules with national standards, become a part of this sensible movement. To be clear, state policy experimentation and competition can provide benefits to taxpayers, as Rhode Island’s recent government pension reforms demonstrate. At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the risks to deployment of new technologies and services for Ocean State consumers if providers are hampered by compliance burdens stemming from variances in the state’s rules.
The positive economic impacts of continued wireless investment are difficult to overstate. Last year, one company alone (Verizon) invested over $100 million in the state and supported 466 vendors. This does not include the additional $297 million invested in greater New England. With new technologies such as 4G networks coming online, it is critical companies have a reasonably consistent regulatory structure across state lines so as not to jeopardize investment.
Rhode Islanders have already reaped rewards from a highly competitive market for local voice services; roughly 1.6 million consumers in the state have landline or VoIP connections. Furthermore, as we move to the next generation of services, Rhode Island is ahead of the rest of the country in deploying broadband and switching to completely wireless platforms. Yet, passage of SB 2393 is necessary to help continue and accelerate this trend.
The Senate can and should pass SB2393. The time has come for Rhode Island to create a modern regulatory system that is up to the task of protecting consumers and providing a hospitable climate for expansion in our 21st Century economy.Sincerely, Brent MeadState Government Affairs Manager